Skip to Main Content

Mammograms Key to Breast Health

January 12, 2021 Posted in: Women's Health

When it comes to breast cancer detection, it’s clear that regular mammograms help find cancer earlier and in its most treatable stages. In fact, we know that routine screening reduces breast cancer risk of dying by at least 15 percent. Although we agree they are important, different radiological and imaging societies offer a range of recommendations regarding the timeline and frequency for mammograms.

The American Society of Breast Surgeons, an organization that’s committed to improving the practice of breast surgery and advocating for excellence in caring for breast patients, recommends that women of average risk should begin screening mammograms at age 40 and continue them annually if their life expectancy is 10 years or greater.  

Why is a yearly mammogram so important? From year to year, things can and do change within a woman’s breast tissue. Although waiting for two years may not be an issue if you develop a slow growing tumor, those with faster growing types of breast cancer may need more extensive treatment to their breast cancer. The earlier we can find a breast abnormality, the better.

There are two main types of mammograms, which is an x-ray of the breast. Traditional mammography is two dimensional. CHI Memorial’s MaryEllen Locher Breast Center offers the latest technology – 3D mammography with tomosynthesis – which creates a three-dimensional model of the breast by fusing tother several images into one. Seeing the breast from different angles helps radiologists see abnormalities more clearly.  

When an abnormality or area of concern is identified on a screening mammogram, women are called back for a diagnostic mammogram, which typically includes more compression and more images of the breast. It’s important to note that 3D mammograms have also been shown to reduce the number of women who get called back for a rechecks, reducing the anxiety and worry that comes with a diagnostic mammogram. If after the diagnostic mammogram there is still an area of concern, women are referred to a breast surgeon and may need a biopsy.

Women at higher risk for breast cancer should also follow these recommendations but may require the addition of a breast MRI or ultrasound to their screening. These additional imaging methods do not produce extra radiation, nor does the 3D mammography confer any significant levels of radiation over that of a 2D mammogram. Mammograms are a safe, effective way to identify breast cancer in its earliest stages when treatment is less invasive and most effective.

Yearly screening mammograms are typically covered by insurance. CHI Memorial’s MaryEllen Locher Breast Center also offers programs for the uninsured or the underinsured to provide for their mammogram. To schedule an appointment, call (423) 495-4040.

Related Articles

Age for First Mammogram

OCT 31, 2023

Women should typically get their first mammogram at the age of 40. Regular mammograms are essential for early detection of breast cancer, as they can identify potential abnormalities before they become symptomatic.

Read More

Cervical Health Awareness - Prevention and Care

NOV 22, 2022

According to the Centers for Disease Control, all women are at risk for cervical cancer – and approximately 14,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with this potentially deadly disease this year. Cervical cancer most commonly occurs in women over ...

Read More

Don’t Suffer in Silence with Pelvic Organ Prolapse

AUG 17, 2021

If you’ve experienced the uncomfortable and disconcerting feelings of vaginal fullness or pressure, you’re not alone. Studies show that up to 40 percent of women have some form of vaginal or pelvic organ prolapse, which occurs when the tissues and mu...

Read More